Adversity doesn’t prevent people from being entrepreneurs.
In fact, adversity can be the catalyst for becoming an entrepreneur.
With the right perspective, adversity can guide you and help you.
I grew up in a small town in New Jersey, in a family filled with criminals and drug addicts. My mom did her best to shield me from everything, she even got us out of welfare and now owns a half million dollar house, but I still saw everything.
One day, when I was 5 years old, my uncle (my mother’s brother) came over to ask my mom to borrow money (which was going to be used for drugs.) When my mom refused, my uncle started to get angry and shout at my mom.
My mom has never let anyone disrespect her so she started to shout back. The shouting match elevated when suddenly my uncle pushed my mom who lost her footing and fell through our glass table, shattering it to a million pieces. My father, who was upstairs at the time came rushing down when he heard the crash. He immediately ran after my uncle who bolted to the bathroom and locked himself in. My mom, bleeding, called the cops who removed my uncle from the bathroom and arrested him.
Years later, my father would pass away from cancer, leaving my mom to raise me plus 2 of my cousins who she took in.
Growing up, I never heard of entrepreneurship or personal development. I thought personal development was going to the gym.
I didn’t even know an adult that read for leisure.
But my mom pushed me to work hard and keep pushing for a life that I wanted. So that got me to college.
But I was on a pre-law track (because the only two ways to get out of my small town was to become a lawyer or a banker).
It wasn’t until my junior year of college that I found a piece of paper on my desk that said: “Make $10,000 running your own business this summer.” I had $30 in my bank account at the time so I said: “sign me up!”
That summer I ran my own exterior painting company, went door to door selling paint jobs, hired my own painters, and produced all the work I sold. It was by far the hardest summer of my life (many tears were shed that summer). But it was also the most transformative.
I realized two things, 1. I love entrepreneurship and 2. I suck at entrepreneurship. I burnt myself and my team out making that $10,000 in profit.
So I came back the next year with a different strategy, something I called systematic leadership. I wound up 5xing my revenue and 3xing my profit. The following year I moved up to Boston to start a division of the same company and built that up to $1.2 million in 10 months. From there my partner and I left that company to start our own real estate company, which through a ton of hard work we were able to build up to $6,000,000 in 2 years. From there I moved out to San Diego and wound up selling my equity in my real estate development company to start a company that I was way more passionate about, which is what I am working on now, Elevate NEXT, a Systems and leadership training system for emerging leaders. We set out to open the eyes and empower the next generation of change makers to live their best life and change the world.
Along the way, I had a near death experience, saw a friend of mine pass away, lost my aunt, uncle, and all of my grandparents.
It would have been easy to use these as excuses. No one would have blamed me for collapsing or breaking down.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, and it shouldn’t be that way.
Adversity can inspire you and motivate you. I kept going because I wanted to make these people proud. I wanted to live a life of meaning, for them.
Adversity can make you more present and grateful. Almost dying, or losing loved ones makes you realize just how precious life is, and how important it is to go after what you want.
That is the mark of an entrepreneur, and adversity can show you that.
Adversity doesn’t have to break you. Adversity can make you.
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